New Forest after-dark running event plan gets go-ahead
An after-dark running event through the New Forest has been given the go-ahead despite criticism from conservation groups.
The Forestry Commission has approved plans for the Maverick Silva Dark Series race to take place at the forest for the first time on 2 December.
The Commoners Defence Association had said such commercial events would disrupt the forest's "tranquillity".
Race organisers have asked runners to be "mindful of wildlife and livestock".
The New Forest Association said: "Forestry Commission permission for large scale after-dark events will beget the expectation for more, and encourage greater after-dark usage.
"We just want to let the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) have a rest."
A Forestry Commission spokeswoman said formal permission was given after a route was agreed along gravel paths.
"Following a thorough assessment and consultation with wildlife experts, we've concluded that the event poses no negative impact on the SSSI," she added.
Maverick organises cross-country running events across England and Wales, including other Dark Series races in Surrey and Sussex.
Places on the race, sponsored by a head torch manufacturer, are currently selling for up to £30.
Maverick director Ben Macwilliam said the agreed route was "as least disruptive to the wildlife and residents of the New Forest as possible".
References on the race website to "a wealth of wildlife to keep your mind occupied" and "you will come across wild boar and fallow dear" have been removed.